Matty Burton + Dave Bowman join Special Group as founding creative partners for Aussie start-up

4.jpgTwo of the world's most highly acclaimed creative directors, Matty Burton and Dave Bowman, are joining Special Group as founding creative partners in the recently announced Australian start-up.

The award-winning team has spent the last five years with TBWA as executive creative directors of the Sydney Group. Under their creative leadership the agency doubled in size and revenue, winning 19 new business pitches and taking it to the number one creative agency in Australia, as ranked by the Won Report.
Says Burton: "Our entire careers have been in anticipation of this moment. We have worked at many start-ups over our career; either at the bottom, in the middle or helping to lead the charge. Places like Whybin Lawrence TBWA, Host, The Glue Society, Droga 5 New York and Droga 5 Australia. We've been watching and learning the whole time. We will fail at times. We will succeed at others. But it's the journey that we are most looking forward to."

Says Lindsey Evans, partner and CEO: "What clients will most appreciate is that Matty and Dave have monster talent. After all, more than 40 Cannes Lions and 15 Gold EFFIE effectiveness awards is more than luck. What many may not know and what I believe makes them truly unique is how such extraordinary talent comes from two such incredibly wonderful human beings. I've known them as friends for a long time. I've admired their work for even longer. And, finally, I can love them as partners."

Special Group is renowned for its unique offering of advertising, brand design, media and digital innovation which creates joined-up branding solutions that have earned high recognition for work that crosses conventional marketing lines.

Says Bowman: "I've been a big fan of the guys behind Special Group since we first worked together in New Zealand a decade ago. So, to now have the chance to become a part of their fiercely independent and agile creative offering is incredibly exciting. Particularly at this point in time when the landscape is changing so quickly and radically, Special's nimble approach will prove to be a valuable asset to clients. Special Group also shares our entrepreneurial ethic, as do many of the most inspired and inspiring clients and brands. We can't wait to get stuck in. "

Says Tony Bradbourne, Special Group co-founder: "Matty and Dave are truly world class talent. They have a brilliant track record of creative and effectiveness success. Together with Lindsey and Cade they form an incredible new offering in the market that I know Marketing Directors and CMOs will find refreshing and compelling."

Special Group was founded by Tony Bradbourne, Rob Jack, Heath Lowe and Michael Redwood in 2007. They brought together many years of experience in diverse global markets - Amsterdam, London, New Zealand and the US and within 18 months they had won a Grand Prix at Cannes and been recognised by B&T magazine as Australasian Emerging Agency of the Year.

Special now has a roster of more than 30 clients, including 2degrees mobile, Smirnoff, Red Bull, AA Insurance, TSB Bank, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise, Unitec, ecostore and The Royal New Zealand Ballet, and are New Zealand's most successful independent agency.

The agency has won the top packaging award in New Zealand for the past three years, created a critically acclaimed television series and won Best in Show awards at both advertising and media shows. Special has been recognised with numerous Agency of the Year titles, and in 2011 won the prestigious 'Quinlivan Black' Best in Show at the Caxton Newspaper Awards - with a digital idea.

Special Group Australia launched in June with founding partners in CEO Lindsey Evans and managing partner Cade Heyde and founding clients including Red Bull Australia Paspaley, Marcs, Ecostore and Adopt Change.

(Pictured L-R: Matty Burton, Lindsey Evans, Dave Bowman, Cade Heyde)


WOW said:

How does Dave turn his foot on that right angle?

Daniel said:

Two more solid additions to an already extremely talented team. Big things to come from these guys, me thinks.

Jack said:

Great move chaps. All the best.

Terrible timing for Whybins.

Keeping it real said:

Thank god Matty's sitting down!!!!???

A big fan said:

Matty and Dave: Two of the smartest, most talented guys in our industry. Two of the nicest as well.

Best of luck gentlemen.

insider said:

They've been unhappy for ages, so this won't come as any big surprise to those there.The question is, who will replace them? With the billings lost, the betting is it won't be another duo. Rumour is there might be a few more to go.

viz reader said:

good move, you funny and talented men.

Scoop said:

Betcha Bradbury finds that every McLeod has a silver lining.

idea said:

Couldn't the little guy from Melbourne head to Sydney to help em?

Wow said:

That's some pretty big news right there.
Look forward to great things.

Ouch said:

That's got to hurt.

So continues the Whybins Wobble.

Steve Dodds said:

Best of luck boys. Don't forget I'm available for freelance.

Ouch said:

First Saatchi then Whybin! The pattern continues.

lucky lill said:

Lindsey doesn't exactly have a great track record….a few months here, a failed start up there….time will tell

a said:

All I see is two stools

Ted Royer said:

Congratulations to two of the best creatives I ever had the pleasure to work with and two of the funniest guys I ever got to drink with.

macca said:

Best of luck. Matty taught me so much at Adschool when entering this industry. Unlike so many in advertising he knows his shit but not up his own arse. Good luck guys

Russty said:


Time Lord said:

Their stay was just over 4 years ,not 5......

Nick G said:

Congrats lads, you will be brilliant.

I remember the old days working with you fondly and while time has passed, there are few that I have worked with since who are as good as you both.


Matty Burton said:

Hey 'Lucky Lill'

just reading the comments today, with a sore head admittedly from perhaps one too many celebratory drinks last night. I've been humbled by most comments, particularly yours Ted Royer. Next time I see you I'm going to cuddle the shit out of you.

I just wanted to call you out 'Lucky Lill' on your comment though.

Three main reasons, to be precise.

Firstly, I wouldn't exactly call Happy Soldiers a 'failed start up'. More that the very talented creative founders wanted to focus on their craft rather than building a big agency, or so I'm told. So I believe that comment is a little harsh as I have never heard of it mentioned as a 'failure' before. They did some very good work.

Secondly, even if what you say is true, who better to go into business with? Someone who has done similar before and learnt some very valuable lessons. I find your viewpoint dim witted and short sighted on this matter.

Thirdly, I would like to point out that you are a coward. Probably trying in some small minded attempt to make yourself feel bigger and better by attempting to pull another down.

I just realised how grumpy I get when I'm hungover. So sorry about the harshness of this comment, hopefully though it might make some people think twice about spreading negativity in a world where we need much, much more positivity.

DJs on the move? said:

David Jones moved to Whybin for their creative clout - particularly with Matt and Dave at the helm. Now with new owners and change afoot internally - could another move be imminent for the big retailer? Off the ASX means they will act decisively, and will little notice.

Steve said:

Gav wouldn't want to go back there, he's far too smart.

Curious? said:

Who's Gav?

Oz Dean said:

How any can suggest Happy Soldiers was a failure is beyond me. Clearly Clueless rather than Lucky Lill.

Go Matty for calling out LL with class & humility.

Congrats/best of luck again to all.

Re lucky lill said:

Obviously you do not know Lindsey, as if you did, you would know she is passionate, has a great mind and positivity that is infectious.
She is a brilliant woman and a strong leader.
If you do know her, let me guess - somewhat jealous?
I'd work for Lindsey in a heartbeat and smell success around the corner.

a said:

If Happy Soldiers set out to shut shop after a few years, well yes, it was a success.

If they set out to build a world class creative agency and be around for years to come, it was a failure.

ashley said:

Wow congrats guys. You'll learn a lot being part of the business from the ground up too.

Great work has followed these guys everywhere they have moved to so keen to see how they operate with a much smaller team. It should open up a lot of interesting opportunities.

Matty Burton said:

Re re Lucky Lill

In that case please re read point two. And point three while you're at.


Word said:

Will be interesting to see who takes that job off the back of the run they've been having. Won't be long before NYC beckons the big man too.

Not much left after that.


Damon Stapleton said:

All the best to two of the gentlemen of our industry.
You guys will smash it.

Dear Door said said:

You have zero idea.

Reality check Ashley said:

That Matty and Dave have always done great work isn't in question. If they stopped work now - they would've done more great work than most of us will in an entire lifetime. The real test is what work they do in their own shop. Lots of great creatives have set up shop only to find that having to share the responsibilities for things they'd previously left to others takes its toll - on them and their product. If they didn't know how to read and understand a balance sheet - they soon did. It's not fun seeing the first 30% -50% of each cheque go straight back out the door again to pay everything from rent, IT, insurance etc., etc., etc. The end result is that most - regardless of their creative reputation - find themselves making the very compromises they fought tooth and nail against when someone else's money was paying the bills. Big network agencies can operate on a loss because they're funded from elsewhere. That's not really an option for star-ups. Or, if it is, it ain't an option for very long. Sometimes it's as simple as - compromise, or close. Most star-ups choose to compromise. And who can blame them? It's why most start-ups fail to live up to their promise and why we should respect what The Palace and Mojo and very fews others have achieved. Let's hope Matty and Dave make it - because God knows the industry desperately needs another Palace, or Mojo, to show us the way!

Ross Howard said:

Congrats guys!

I'm sure you'll be sorely missed by the peeps at WHYBINS, but what an exciting opportunity! Well done :-)

Simon Hadfield said:

Nice one guys. Good luck to you all.

I'm not 100% convinced reality check said:

The compromise tends to come when in indeed it's not your money.
You're not able to make the kind of calls you think you might be able to.
There are stock exchanges where numbers are reported and the loss of revenue, or growth for growths sake, can lead agencies to take on clients that they don't believe in or are not right for them.
Then there are 'global wins' where you may get a client that you never pitched for in the first place but now have to work on. Regardless of what the marketing department thinks of you. A bit like an arranged marriage.
It doesn't matter what kind of creative culture you try to build, you are never in control of it.
When faced whit creating something you know isn't right for the sake of the bottom line, which also includes many people's jobs, the choice isn't as black and white as you make it out to be.
The global networks are run by bean counters, with the CEO's talking more than the creative leaders. Creative people are expendable. It's very easy to to replace them.
And that makes it even harder to have any kind of conviction.
So tip your hat to those who are doing well in those kinds of jobs because it's not as easy as you may think.

Anna Cronism said:

I'm gonna suggest that these guys will be ok, even without Steve Dodds.

Jordan said:

I'm going to paraphrase Stephen Colbert for a moment: ...people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying “yes” begins things. Saying “yes” is how things grow. Saying “yes” leads to knowledge. So for as long as you have the strength to, say “yes'.”

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